AAA Diamonds Are Still a Traveler’s Best Friend

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Updated program provides a fresh look at 60,000 hotels and restaurants

BOISE – (January 27, 2020) – To better reflect the needs of travelers and to keep up with changing industry trends, AAA recently updated its famous Diamond Program.

“With other rating systems, users share their personal experiences, and that information can be helpful, but somewhat subjective,” says AAA Idaho Public Affairs Director Matthew Conde.  “AAA’s Diamond designations objectively explain what a property offers.  And as always, AAA never lists poor quality options – every property has to meet acceptable standards of cleanliness and quality.”

For clarity, previously-listed One and Two-Diamond properties will now be known as “Approved.”  If properties incorporate additional amenities and special touches to delight their guests, they can earn a Three, Four, or Five Diamond designation.

“We’ve also adjusted our inspection guidelines to match travel preferences,” Conde said.  “Our inspectors don’t need to be checking for ironing boards or printed guest information, but they should be looking for things like plenty of space for clothes, comfortable bedding, and Wi-Fi.”

For more than 80 years, AAA has conducted professional, in-person inspections of hotels and restaurants, then shared that information with members in AAA TourBook guides, the TripTik Travel Planner, AAA Travel Guides, and more.  Today, inspectors visit 60,000 properties in the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean (27,000 hotels and more than 30,000 restaurants).

Because they arrive unannounced, inspectors experience the property in the same way as other guests, without any special treatment.  Properties who refuse to submit to an on-the-spot inspection are removed from AAA’s listings.

“Travelers can use the Diamond program to weed out unacceptable lodging options, then follow up with user ratings from other websites as needed,” Conde said.  “AAA takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process.”

About 28 percent of the hotels that AAA inspects will be listed under the “Approved” designation in upcoming AAA publications, along with 63 percent in the Three Diamond designation, 6.5 percent in the Four Diamond designation, and 0.4 percent in the Five Diamond designation.  Four and Five Diamond designations are challenging to earn by design, as they help distinguish exceptional properties.  On the restaurant side, 71 percent of the locations that AAA inspects are Approved, with 26 percent in Three Diamond, 2.3 percent in Four Diamond, and 0.2 percent in Five Diamond.

AAA’s 2020 Four and Five-Diamond recipients, including here in Idaho, will be announced soon.